HOUSTON - Four minutes was all it took for a group of organized thieves to make off with tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from the Hermes of Paris store near the Galleria.
Surveillance video recorded by exterior cameras show a silver car backing into a parking space in front of the store on Post Oak Boulevard around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. Less than a minute later, a white SUV pulls up in front of the store and close to a dozen people rush toward the front door of Hermes.
Officials believe the group used crow bars and pickaxes to smash through the door. The video shows one man wearing a mask acting as a lookout in the parking lot. A short time later, several men are seen running out of the store carrying purses and other merchandise.
A security guard is seen in a motorized cart trying to stop the group as they speed away.
Some of the purses sold at Hermes are valued up to $7,000 dollars and some watches retail for up to $50,000 dollars.
"It's well-organized, they have escape routes, they dump their cars," retired police officer and loss prevention expert Pat Murphy said. "It's almost like out of a movie."
Murphy said retailers usually see an up-tick in organized theft during the holidays. Murphy said many of the organized groups work in cells, making it difficult for police to get to the heart of a group.
"It's highly compartmentalized, so they can't take down the entire organization with the arrest of one person or a group," said Murphy.
Murphy said many times thieves are given so-called "shopping lists." Murphy said once the products are stolen they are handed over to "customers" who sell the items on eBay or Craigslist. He said many times the items are shipped out of an area within 24 hours.
"It's an organized effort to where the merchandise is going to an actual warehouse where it is being processed and re-boxed for resale to other maybe less than reputable retailers," said Murphy.
Hermes has since repaired the imported front door damaged during the burglary.
HPD detectives told Local 2 they are aware of another attempted theft at the Louis Vuitton store in the Galleria and are working to determine if this crime is connected to the Hermes theft.
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